Tuesday 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

And as Tiny Tim observed, "God bless us, every one!" I hope you all have a lovely Christmas.

Monday 17 December 2012

No star system will dare oppose the Federation now

I received a few more recently released models from Mongoose the other day, two Ramius-class Battle Frigates (dangerous, heavily-armed little Federation ships), and the new Mars-class Battleship and Gettysburg-class Heavy Command Cruiser (a further modification of my beloved Constitution-class). I am very happy to report that they went together without any hassle at all. Why, I didn't even end up applying GS as a back-up glue. I did knock the starboard pylon off the Gettysburg, but in all honesty that was sheer butterfingers. They are very nice to put together. They also arrived within two days, which was great! In terms of background, of fluff, if you will, the Gettysburg appears to come from a computer game, while the Mars is a hypothetical design never constructed in the SFU. I think. The important thing is that it's bloody huge! The folk at the Mongoose forum had promised to produce their stats by the "end of the week", which was, technically, Saturday night, but I rather suspected they meant Sunday night, anyway, so no harm done.Having just peered at the forum, they seem to be a bit busy. Ah, well, if they're shipping hundreds of things just before Christmas, it's understandable. I am looking forward to popping it down on the table and then throwing a squadron of other ships at it! Here are the four ships, plus a resin Constitution.

Friday 14 December 2012

We have been adopted

I was up early every day the other week, of which more anon. When I went out to defrost my car I found a cat. This cat has been visiting us for ages, perhaps years, to collect some of the food we leave out, and has been so ubiquitous of late that Mum buys him cat food of a Saturday, doling some out to him daily. We originally started leaving out food to attract the local badgers, but over the years it has got ridiculously out of hand, and there are not just badgers, but cats, foxes, waddlings of ducks, and even the occasional hedgehog (who ate quite contentedly beside the badger). On this occasion the cat was asleep. The day before, Mum had put an old duvet outside, ready to take it to the tip, and the cat was wrapped up in it, all snug, or snugger than if the feline had no duvet at all. Every morning I went out he or she was there, and we inevitably did not have the heart to throw away the duvet. A little after two this morning, I popped out to my car to fetch some things, and there, snuggled up in the duvet was the cat, sound asleep until this great lunking human came clomping around and shining torchlight at the back of an innocent feline head.

There's no question of the little chap coming inside. That is not because we are secretly diabolical villains or so terrified of cat hairs on furniture that we would let someone freeze. The problem is that Mum's asthma does not generally respond well to cats (or dogs, chickens and several other pets), so if we let the cat in, we force Mum out. That might be a bit excessive at this chilly time of year. We do have a slight surplus of hot water bottles, and my brother has been armouring the rabbit's and guinea pigs' homes against the cold with these apotropaic devices. I hope you all are enjoying the approach of Christmas or whatever seasonal festivity cheers you!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

A bit of a campaign

Having leafed through the ACTA: SF rulebook, and rather liked the look of the campaign segment, I've been playing a few battles, some against myself, and so far one with my brother against me. The Federation have done well, and the Klingons terribly. The first game I attempted to use the Klingons as horse-archer types, which rather failed, as I mucked up my deployment. In the end, half the Klingon ships were destroyed, and the Federation (who were actually outnumbered!) lost nary a craft. The surviving Klingons improved their Crew Quality, and the Federation didn't. One can imagine the Klingons, who have just seen their force gutted, suddenly seeing the point of every man having his duty down pat, while the Federation force was probably a bit complacent after such a victory. USS Hornblower did pick up some improved shields. The second battle was a bit of a bust, as I was playing against myself, and got a bit out of my depth, trying to solo-play with far too many ships. I think I decided to call it a day after two or three turns.

The third battle my brother joined me, and I handed him the Federation fleet. We played the Assassination scenario, which called for me to destroy one of his ships. He had a Burke-class, two Ramius-class, and the last, the target, an Ortega-class. Things went well for me at first, and I smashed up USS Hornblower with my D7, D5 and E4, but I got complacent, and my brother got a couple of very fluky Photon and Drone shots in on the D7, the Dilithium Chamber of which proceeded to blow up the ship! In one turn the battle went from looking as though I would achieve a stonking victory to one where he was clearly in the lead. Try as I might, I couldn't claw it back after that point, and I could not kill off the Ortega by the end of the turn-limit. So victory was deservedly his! Next time the Empire will demand better!

We're now planning a bigger battle, with the Feds fielding eight ships: a Lexington, a Wolverine, that same Ortega (fully repaired), one of the Ramiuses (which has a Lucky Crew upgrade), and four Burkes (one with Long-Ranged Targeters for his Photons). I'm in two minds about the Klingons. I'm definitely taking 2 D7s, 2 D5s (one with Precise Gunners for its Disruptors) and that E4 from the last game (my best crew is on that ship, and it picked up an extra Attack Die for its Drone system), but I am torn between taking 3 F5s or 2 D6s. The smaller ships mean I am fielding as many ships as the Feds, and they can suffer more punishment but the D6s have got better long-range striking power. While the striking power argument is a powerful one, the scenario is Space Superiority, and so the victory conditions hinge on having lots of ships to spread out across the table, for which the cheap and cheerful F5s are perfect. Well, by the time you read this I shall have decided!

Monday 3 December 2012

The Embrace of Charybdis

We had a brief game of Star Fleet involving three Battlecruisers on either side, a table full of terrain, with a Black Hole sucking everything to the centre of the table.In the first turn the Federation won the Initiative,but both sides had nothing in range or arc, so we just swooped toward one another. The Black Hole sucked everything to the middle of the table The second turn saw my brother realise he had misdeployed, as I was able to bring all three of my ships to bear against USS Kirov, shielding two of them from the rest of his force thanks to the asteroid field. The Klingon C7 Red suffered Level 1 Critical hits to Weapons and her Dilithium Chamber, while Kirov suffered a Level 1 Critical to her Impulse Drive. In the End Phase everything on the table got sucked further toward the Black Hole, and the Red managed to repair the Critical Hit to her Weapons system. The third turn was the last. In an attempt to redeploy, Niall tried for a very minor High Energy Turn for the Kirov, which failed, leaving her exposed to the concentrated firepower of all three Klingon ships. She did not survive. Something of a space oddity occurred, as the dust cloud which had been hiding one of my warships touched the Black Hole and vanished, while my ship lay further away, and so didn't. Come the end of the turn, a planet, dust clouds and an asteroid field had all been sucked into the Black Hole, but more importantly, the Klingons were still in good fighting shape, while a third of the Federation fleet was gone. So we shook hands and called it a day.

These equal points affairs are getting a bit samey, so I think next time we might do an imbalanced fight. Another thing I have noticed is that I am drawing up bad fleet lists. They are bad in the sense that when a fleet concentrates fire on a single ship, it generally renders the rest of the battle badly imbalanced. Next time, if we don't have an imbalanced fight, we might have a go at using a large number of small ships: four Burke Frigates and two Callahan Cutters would be equal in points to two Klingon E4s and four F5s, so it would be unlikely that the loss of a single ship would drastically alter the nature of the battle. I am still not quite sure what the technique should be when fighting against Klingons with the Federation. On the one hand, going at them head on allows the use of Photons, which are potentially devastating, but on the other hand, Fed ships are generally less capable of turning, so I should expect to find Klingons glued to my ships' tails. Presumably the way to resolve that is by having ships turn repeatedly, so some ship always has an arc on the enemy. Anyway, for now here are the photos of this latest battle.

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